Wednesday, April 24, 2013

And, yet more et ceteras

The Sneak Attack
One of the time-honored ways for elected leaders to rob us of our freedom is for them to act on legislation when no one is paying attention because everyone is focused on something else. Another is for them to give some piece of legislation a nice-sounding name that bears no resemblance to what the legislation will actually do. And right now both of those things are happening in our nation's capital.

Two days ago -- while most of the people and media remained focused primarily on the fallout from the Boston Marathon bombings, and secondarily on the fierce debate over proposed immigration reforms -- the U.S. Senate quietly moved the "Marketplace Fairness Act" past a procedural hurdle and one step closer to passage. Needless to say, what the act would truly accomplish is not fair but unfair: 1) It would cripple innumerable businesses, especially small ones, and thus prove detrimental to their employees. 2) In the process it would take choices away from consumers; in other words, from all of us. And 3) It would do this by imposing encumbrances on Internet transactions, which have proven to be one of the greatest democratizing and empowering devices in human history.

Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe has written a fine piece about this pending legislation. You can read it by going here.

The Sequestration Scam
Meanwhile, continuing to roll in are some of the real world effects of the ways in which Obama & Co. cynically and very intentionally toy with their constituents.

To recap, back on March 1st a minor -- very minor -- cut in federal spending was activated by the fact that Congress hadn't passed a budget. The ways in which the cut would be applied were authored in advance by none other than Obama himself; and while he could have chosen to reduce the government's spending on superfluous fat like cowboy poetry festivals and the construction of robotic squirrels (to see if they attract rattlesnakes bites!), he instead chose to reduce its spending on important things like airport security and meat inspections. Obviously, his chosen cuts were intended to inflict pain and/or panic in order to prod the public into buying his snake oil claim that any cuts in government spending automatically equal danger for the public.

This very evening I was reminded of the sequestration scam when one of my local TV stations ran a story about the large number of flights through Tampa International Airport that are being delayed, supposedly because sequestration has "forced" the government to place air traffic controllers on furlough throughout the nation. Well, I turned on my computer and it turns out that yesterday's Wall Street Journal had a piece about this particular part of the scam, which you can read here. For a good piece about the scam overall, you may go here and read what Deroy Murdock had to say the day sequestration went into effect.

About that immigration reform
I am like most conservatives in that I love Marco Rubio -- love him to the point that I wish he was president  -- yet I believe he is gravely mistaken when it comes to the immigration bill he is championing. My main reason for opposing the bill is that in order to be in favor of it, one must believe the government will do what it says it is going to do with regard to enforcement and border security; and unfortunately, history tells us we would be fools to believe that.

Now, on top of the very rational fear that the government will not follow through on its promises, we have this to chew on: During an interview today with Laura Ingraham, Rudy Guilliani (a supporter of the bill!) admitted that even if the govenment does keep its promises, the bill's border security measures will not succeed. When asked if they would be effective, he stated: "No, no, no, the only thing that works is putting the right number of resources on the border and being able to stop people physically from coming in for a period of two or three years to change behavior."

Well, alrighty then.

And finally...
Every time a Republican mentions the obvious fact that Muslims have a near-monopoly on the use of terror against us, liberal media types immediately trot out the bogus charge that the Republican's statement is evidence that Republicans are xenophobic and Islamophobic and are infused with a totalitarian impulse that they aim at anyone who practices Islam in any form.

Yesterday, none of those same liberal media types (including even the hypersensitive Council on American-Islamic Relations) uttered a disparaging word when longtime Democrat Bob Beckel said this: "In the Muslin communities around the world, they do not like us. I think we really have to consider, given the fact that so many people hate us, that we're going to have to cut off Muslim students coming to this country for some period of time so that we can absorb what we've got, and look at what we've got, and decide whether some of the people here should be sent back home or to prison."

Granted, they did not publicize or praise Beckel's remarks, but they also did not criticize them. I would ask why, but what's the point? The media is the media and you already know the answer. So I simply say c'est la vie.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

More et ceteras

When I went to bed Thursday night, I fully intended that my next post would be about 1) the previous day's votes defeating proposed gun controls, and 2) President Obama's reaction to those votes. But like everyone else, I learned Friday morning that one of the Boston Marathon bombers had been killed and a manhunt was underway to find the other, so that next post (i.e. this one) has turned into a catchall about multiple events from recent days.

The Pursuit
One of the major takeaways from 9/11 was a lack of collaboration between federal agencies. The response to the Boston Marathon bombings is not a perfect analogy because 1) it involved a combination of federal, state, and municipal agencies, and 2) it was a response to something rather than an attempt to stop that something from happening in the first place. Nonetheless, it gives us reason to believe that our public officials have acted on the lessons of 9/11.

The coordination between the FBI, BATF, Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police Department, Watertown Police Department, and several campus police departments was so seamless and effective -- especially when you consider that it had to come together without planning -- that it was far beyond anything I have ever witnessed. Every person involved, from the chiefs to the agency heads to the beat cops on the street, deserves every ounce of our respect.

It is hard to mistake me for a Democrat, and if you went policy by policy comparing my positions to those of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, I suspect we would come out looking like adversaries. But you gotta give credit where it is due and Patrick was superb over the past week. Handling himself like a statesman instead of a politician, he always spoke with calm and confidence; always projected assurance to a population that needed it; never hogged the spotlight or took credit; and always deferred to others when their areas of knowledge exceeded his own. It was easy to imagine him being president.

The Him-Haw
When news of the bombings first broke, I have no doubt that most Americans processed it by telling themselves that the perpetrators could be anyone. But I also have no doubt that most Americans, based on crystal clear history, also told themselves there was a better than fifty percent chance the perps were Muslim.

Not so with the American press. Ever eager to speculate that not-yet-identified terrorists are anything other than the most likely culprits, the MSM's scribes and yappers fell all over themselves telling us that the bombers were probably right wingers and/or Republicans and/or Christians and/or U.S.-born and/or NRA members and/or white people in general. The operative and obvious common denominator was "not Muslim."

As we now know, the MSM scored on the "white people" part of their wish list -- but missed on everything else, most notably the "not Muslim" part that was their greatest wish. So after learning that the Tsarnaev brothers were in fact Muslims, they quickly started to gloss over that inconvenient truth by seizing on the brothers' Chechen ethnicity and telling us that most Chechen terrorists are nationalists, not religionists, whose main beef is with Russia.

But of course they failed to share some facts that cast doubt on their "Chechens aren't Islamists" claim. For starters, there are the simple facts that the majority of Chechens are Muslims and that Muslims tend to view the world in terms of contrasting religions, not contrasting nations (the latter is obvious to anyone with a fraction of a brain who has followed current events at any point in my life). There is also the fact that the ire of supposedly "nationalist" Chechens is aimed specifically at Russian Christians. It is incredible how people addled with political correctness manage to not notice things that stare them in the face.

The Petulant President
So Barack Obama surrounds himself with the aggrieved parents of children who perished at Sandy Hook, and uses them as props to guilt people into supporting gun control legislation that would not have prevented the killings at Sandy Hook, even according to its own authors...Then he has the audacity to accuse the legislation's opponents of playing politics, when in fact it was those opponents who suggested something that actually could help (namely, a revisitation of public policies regarding the mentally ill)...And to top it off, Obama was far more animated when lambasting those opponents that he has ever been when discussing terrorists...Pathetic.

The Hypocrite President
And while he was lashing out over the defeat of those gun control measures, Obama spoke specifically of the Manchin-Toomey Amendment by saying he could not fathom how elected senators could vote against something that was supported by 90 percent of the American people...Um, should somebody remind Obama that it was him and his congressional allies -- each and every one of whom was elected to office -- who voted for Obamacare in spite of the fact it was opposed by 90 percent of the American people?...And while that somebody is at it, should he remind Obama that senators are supposed to base their votes on whether something is constitutional, not whether it is popular?

America's laws are a train wreck of irreconcilable contradictions as they pertain to abortion, and the MSM is so wedded to one side of the abortion issue that it censors and discredits itself with its (non)reporting. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that when it comes to the murder trial of "Doctor" Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist, the MSM has censored itself into oblivion.

I usually prefer not to use scare quotation marks, or the term "abortionist," because both tend to bring emotion and implication into a discussion while removing objectivity. However, they are perfectly valid to use in the case of Gosnell. I have never subscribed to the notion that a baby in the womb this month is any less human than it will be after it leaves the womb next month, but even those who disagree with me on that point should be revolted by the goings-on in Gosnell's so-called clinic. Here is how the clinic was described by Mark Steyn:

(I)t involves large numbers of fully delivered babies who were decapitated and had their feet chopped off and kept in pickling of the "clinic"'s "nurses" testified that she saw a baby delivered into the toilet, where his little arms and feet flapped around as if trying to swim to safety. Then another "women's health worker" reached in and, in the procedure's preferred euphemism, "snipped" the baby's neck -- i.e., severed his spinal column.

Gosnell is not charged "only" with killing fully born babies, but with causing the death of an adult who was one of his patients. Gosnell's case is also rife with allegations that public health officials choose not to inspect abortion clinics for political reasons. This case obviously has very lurid details that would normally be expected to attract media attention, but the MSM has ignored it for ages and thereby kept the general public unaware of it.

If these kind of allegations were leveled against a hospital with a maternity ward, it would be front page news that would captivate the country and receive international commentary. But because it happened at an abortion clinic and the MSM does not want to say anything that might appear to give credence to any of the beliefs held by people who are pro-life, the MSM has chosen to neither see nor hear any evil.

And as I have gone on longer than I anticipated, I am going to call it a morning. Until next time, take care.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

et ceteras

My April 13th post said I would be opining about gay marriage in a series of consecutive posts, but today I am dropping the word "consecutive" because I don't feel like waiting to chime in on some of the other topics swirling about:

Boston Marathon I
There are so many kudos to go around...To the medical staffs of area hospitals, whose combination of urgency and composure helped keep the mortality rate far below what it might otherwise have been...To those on the scene who immediately ran toward the epicenter rather than away from it, seeking to help others rather than seeking only to remove themselves from the danger zone...To the alert spectator who, also thinking beyond himself, tackled a suspicious-looking person so authorities could question him...To the residents of Dorchester who gathered in an extemporaneous candlelight vigil to honor the memory of Martin Richard...And there are many other worthies, no doubt.

Boston Marathon II
Unfortunately there are also some notable non-worthies afoot, and I would be remiss if I gave them a pass. One is the uber-Left, uber-PC types who are attacking people's rational and responsible reactions by accusing them of being (what else?) racists. Michelle Malkin has done a superb job cataloguing and commenting on those actions, here. Another non-worthy is...

Boston Marathon III
President Barack Obama. As much as I hate to criticize our commander-in-chief at a time like this, he deserves it. The monotone, emotionless delivery of his remarks after the bombing was eerily reminiscent of his tone following Benghazi, and strikingly different than the tone he has when talking about, say, Skip Gates or Trayvon Martin.

Obama's engine roars when talking about things that have nothing to do with his presidential responsibilities, but sputters when talking about things that do. After Benghazi he said we would "bring to justice" whoever did it, but he never acted like he meant it and today those perps remain scot-free. Yesterday he said that whoever carried out the bombing in Boston will be made to "feel the full weight of justice," but again it didn't seem like he meant it.

A Thought About Thatcher's Funeral
Or, more specifically, about Obama's absence from the funeral -- an absence I consider to be reprehensible and a national embarrassment. The United Kingdom has been one of our staunchest allies throughout history, and Margaret Thatcher was arguably our staunchest ally among all the prime ministers who have ever led the U.K. Had she not been in 10 Downing Street during the 1980's, the Cold War might not have been won by the West and the lives of today's Americans would be immeasurably worse than they are. Keep in mind that Obama also did not send anyone in his place and that he chose not to attend from the beginning (i.e., well before the Boston Marathon, meaning his supporters can not use the bombing as an excuse). But of course this was not the first time he has spit in Britain's face. The way he is going, we will have not a single friend left on the planet come 2016.

A Thatcher Anecdote
I obviously did not witness this incident, since I was a schoolboy and on the wrong side of the Atlantic when it occurred. But it perfectly sums up Thatcher's personality and here is how Conrad Black described it after she passed away last week: "When she became the leader of the party, she entered the Carlton Club, the Conservatives' social headquarters in Saint James, and when informed that ladies were not allowed in other than as guests, she replied as she brushed past the doorman: 'They are now.'"

Gun Control
Count me among those who are against universal background checks for people attempting to purchase guns. Why? Because I am still waiting to hear what specific items on a background check Big Brother is looking for, and what exactly Big Brother plans to do about certain items. After all, background checks are not simple "pass" or "fail" documents, but lengthy troves containing tons of information about you.

If you had a DUI when you were in college and blew 0.001 over the legal limit, will your masters in Washington now declare you ineligible to ever own a gun? Will they declare you ineligible if you once pled no contest for failing to file your 1991 tax returns, even though you have meticulously filed and paid taxes for every year before and after? My rule is this: The less specific the government is, the more vociferously we should tell it "No!" -- regardless of what the subject is.

And lastly, tax (un)fairness
You might be aware that President Obama is literally a "one-percenter" -- but did you know he intentionally pays far less than what garden variety liberals and hardcore Occupiers would consider to be his "fair share" of taxes? Of course you don't, because the MSM is loathe to report it, but the truth is this: While the people Obama considers middle class (families making under $250,000) paid a standard effective federal rate of 33 percent last year, The Exalted One had an adjusted gross income of over $600,000 yet paid just 18.4 percent.

This was not because rates are lower for the rich, but because he used many of the parts of the tax code that he always claims are immoral and unfair when used by others. Dare I say that if he believed his oratory, he would bypass those parts of the tax code and pay the higher rate he insists others in his income bracket pay? Or if not that, shouldn't he press for measures that would help middle class Americans more easily lower their effective rates to be in line with his?

Milton Wolf of The Washington Times has an excellent piece about this and you may go here to read it. Essentially, he says that since we have a thing called the Alternative Minimum Tax, we should also have something called the Alternative Maximum Fairness Tax, which would stipulate that no American be required to pay federal income taxes at a higher effective rate than the president. Therefore, if next year Obama or his accountants again calculate his effective rate to be 18.4 percent, you will only have to pay 18.4 percent even if the calculations made by you or your accountant come out to 29.9 percent. Wolf suggests that the GOP make this a mandatory addition to any taxing/spending legislation proposed by Obama or by Democratic legislators. I think both the idea and the strategy are excellent, and therefore I am asking yet again that the GOP grow a spine and act!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Gay Marriage: Part One

Gay marriage is the hand grenade issue of our time. It has been tossed into a foxhole where all Americans sit, yet most Americans are afraid to touch it (that is, publicly express their unvarnished opinion) for fear it will explode in their hands – even though they know it is going to explode whether they touch it or not.

If you say you are against gay marriage, you stand to be accused of being a hate-filled Neanderthal who wishes that slavery for black people and death for adulterers were still legal. This is true even if you are a paragon of tolerance who often reads MLK and has several gay people in his group of true friends.

If you say it should be legalized, you stand to be accused of seeking to upend the foundations of society and plunge mankind into an abyss of moral decay that will hasten the end of modern civilization. This is true even if you are a church-going family man who often issues warnings about the risks of society becoming sexually licentious.

Faced with such a choice, most Americans either 1) sit silent on the issue, or 2) claim to be pro-gay marriage because they sense that pop culture favors that viewpoint and possesses a voice that is both louder and more shunning than the combined voices of those who oppose it.

Needless to say, this climate is not conducive to honest discussion. And therefore it is also not conducive to public harmony, especially in the long-term.

When dealing with gay marriage in my April 3rd et ceteras, I wrote that "when it comes to an issue of such magnitude, there is no time to opine about it in a quick-hit post," and that I would therefore "be sharing my thoughts in the near future." Well, that near future is here and I have decided to tackle the issue not in a single post, but in a series of consecutive ones. Let's just say I realized that even a very long post is too short to do this topic justice.

Allow me to begin Part One by asserting my belief that when it comes to gay marriage, only the most strident among us have continuously held the exact same opinion throughout their lives. Although many of us (including me) heaped ridicule on Barack Obama for claiming that his opinion was "still evolving" in the election year of 2012, the fact of the matter is that most of us have had our views on gay marriage evolve over the course of our lives. It must be said, however, that just because a view evolves does not necessarily mean it changes to an opposite view; and it must also be said that evolution in one's thinking about a topic does not automatically flow away from the "anti" position and towards the "pro."

Therefore, I find it disingenuous for someone to depict his view as having never been subject to personal doubt, as having always been built on a foundation free of cracks. And when it comes to this topic, I am certain that few of us can truthfully say our opinion of today is one hundred percent unchanged from the opinion we had whenever the topic first crossed our mind.

In the interest of full disclosure, my Part One is going to share not what my brain tells me to type today, but what my brain told me to type nine years ago in response to an item in the newspaper. In 2004, nationally syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. won a Pulitzer Prize. In March of that year he wrote a column that can be read here if you wish to do so...and below is a letter I wrote to him after reading it. Interestingly, neither of us declared being "for" or "against" gay marriage even though it was the proverbial match that lit the fuse.

In the next-to-last paragraph, for purposes of clarity, I have inserted a parenthetical explanation of what Pitts was referring to in the passage I quoted. Otherwise I have not changed, deleted, or added a single thing. To understand what I wrote, it is not necessary to read Pitts's column, but obviously feel free to do so. Regarding my letter, I ask only that you read it on the merits of what it says. And finally, here it is:

I am sure you will receive many responses to this column, so I will try to keep mine "on subject.”

It is astonishing that so many people favoring gay marriage have put, at most, only the shallowest of thought into their position. Your column never acknowledges even the possibility that opponents of gay marriage might have any reason besides bigotry for their position.

Marriage has existed as an institution for thousands of years in a myriad of civilizations around the globe.  Considering that these civilizations conceived of marriage independently of one another, and did so under innumerable different religions and governments, it is noteworthy that the concept of homosexual marriage was never accepted – even in societies that were accepting of homosexual behavior, such as ancient Greece and ancient Rome. It is certainly not unreasonable to suggest that there must be reasons for this, and to demand that these reasons be considered before society is suddenly mandated to accept something that every generation in history has rejected.

Gay activists have a strong argument when they claim that government has no business getting involved in personal relationships between consenting adults, but what too many people fail to understand is that marriage is not a personal relationship. It is a legal one. Because of this, government does have a role in determining who can get married, just as it does in determining who can sell insurance, who can practice medicine, etc. That is why the state is able to forbid brothers from marrying their sisters, and to outlaw bigamy, to give just two examples.

We can go on for so long about the pros and cons of gay marriage that we should save that for a later exchange. What is crucial when one starts venturing into this topic is to understand the very reason marriage exists. It is not simply to allow people to express their love and devotion to each another, or to leave their belongings to their partner at death, for those things can be done without a marital contract. Marriage was created because societies determined it to be the best means of rearing and raising children, and to thereby promote the advance of mankind.

The marital contract legally unites two people as one, in a bond that cannot be broken without enormous difficulty. It obligates them to stand together in good times and bad, in sickness and health, and to work through problems when the going gets tough rather than just parting ways like a high school couple. Because of this central obligation, it also pushes them to think first and to marry only when ready. The purpose is to create a stable environment for children, because such an environment is best for children and therefore best for society's future. And in a nutshell, the basis for such a contract simply does not exist for homosexual couples because nature has rendered them incapable of producing children within their covenant.

As you have stated in previous columns, many of society's current ills are rooted in "the breakdown of the family" that began decades ago. This breakdown accelerated when the institution of marriage started being weakened, long before the topic of gay marriage appeared on the scene. The rise of "no fault divorce" – which made divorce quick and easy, and removed any standard of justification from the process – was the first big blow. It neutered the marital contract by making it so easy to repeal that people could marry without putting any more thought or effort into it than they would put into any other relationship.

The sexual revolution and feminist movement made things worse. These movements began by claiming that they wanted to remove the stigma from single parenthood so that single parents would not be scorned by society. That stated goal was laudable, but the movements went far beyond it by embracing single parenthood. For years now they have treated it as not being inherently different than marital parenthood, and they have in many cases presented it as a goal to be praised. These same movements were largely responsible for the marginalization of fathers in our court systems, and there is no denying that this marginalization has had a crippling effect on much of America's youth – particularly black youth, as your writings often point out.

It must be pointed out that it is social liberals who have contributed most to this weakening of marriage and family. It was they who spoke of marriage as "just a piece of paper" and claimed it was an establishment relic with no bearing on the enlightened world they thought they were creating in the 1960's. And now, after proclaiming marriage unimportant, it is social liberals who are suddenly championing it – for homosexuals. It is neither bigotry nor paranoia for people to perceive the gay marriage issue as one more coordinated strike in an ongoing effort to undermine the institution of marriage, which itself is the very foundation of society. In fact, when one considers the social and legal trends of the last 40+ years, it would be foolish not to perceive the issue this way.

I could write a whole separate response about your libelous depiction of social conservatives as people "who not so long ago didn't want us in their churches, their schools, their parks or their restaurants" (note to reader: the "us" Pitts used means "black people). However, I will leave that for another time because I have already been lengthy and I know your time is limited.

Please forgive me if my tone has seemed harsh or bitter. I am writing because I have read your works for nearly 10 years and, although I often disagree with you, I have no doubt that you are a person of good will who comes to your opinions honestly. The issue of marriage is critical to our nation's future and should be debated in honest terms. Unfortunately, your column was a disservice in this regard because it discussed none of the pros and cons of the actual issue. In fact, you never bothered to state whether you are for or against gay marriage. All you did was sling mud at those on one side of the issue by portraying them as a bunch of closed-minded bigots. This is a lazy tactic often used to avoid having to debate actual issues and to avoid stating one’s beliefs about those issues. This tactic changes the subject and eliminates productive debate.  It cannot lead the human race forward and it cannot help future generations learn to think, especially when you give no substantiation for your attack on conservatives.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Fairwell, Iron Lady

I saw it first on Facebook: The sad news that Margaret Thatcher departed Earth this morning.

I had not written a eulogy in advance, and will not do her legacy the injustice of hurriedly throwing one together just to publish it with today's date. I will, however, share that one of my first thoughts this morning was this: Now all three are in Heaven.

I am speaking about the three giants who emerged on the world stage in 1979-1980, and proceeded to join forces to slay the Soviet dragon that was then well on its way to chasing freedom from the globe. Those giants were Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Pope John Paul II. Seldom has such a triumvirate stepped forward at such a perfect time. Each of the three was unyielding on principle and unblinking when looking into the eye of evil. They complemented one another in pursuit of a shared objective whose attainment was critical to the welfare of humanity.

I shudder to think of what might have happened to the world without them. And I shudder to think of what might still happen if we forget the lessons of their leadership and vision.

I feel blessed that I was coming of age - and paying attention - at the exact point in time when they were acting in the spotlight of history's stage. It allowed me to witness their example and learn from it.

Today I will honor The Iron Lady's memory by offering up her own words. Here are some of my favorite Margaret Thatcher quotes:

Do you know that one of the great problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas?

Don't follow the crowd. Let the crowd follow you.

Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.

I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding, because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.

Consensus: The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects...What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner: I stand for consensus?

If you set out to be liked, you will accomplish nothing.

Of course it's the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story.

Being democratic is not enough. A majority can not turn what is wrong into right. In order to be considered truly free, countries must also have a deep love of liberty and an abiding respect for the rule of law.

I am extraordinarily patient provided I get my way in the end.

I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it...They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people...

Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tourney Notes, Part Five

Random thoughts now that the Final Four has been whittled to the Final Two:

Bad Call
In fairness to the refs, when viewing the Louisville-Wichita State game from some angles at full speed, the jump ball they called with 8.8 seconds left at least looked like it might have been a jump ball. But even at full  speed I thought the whistle blew too fast for Louisville's Luke Hancock to have tied up the ball long enough to warrant a whistle. When replays confirmed not only that, but also showed that Hancock barely tied it up in the first place - and might even have fouled Wichita State's Ron Baker in the process - my blood boiled.

I do not think the refs blew the call on purpose, but they did blow it. And that blown call gave the ball back to the Cardinals, depriving the Shockers of a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime. That fact is a black eye on the tournament and serves as an injustice to both teams.

In order to tie the game Wichita State would have needed to hit a three-pointer, and while nobody knows if they would have succeeded in that, many millions of stranger things have happened. 8.8 seconds is more than sufficient time to set up a play, and the Shockers had been shooting good from three-point range throughout the tourney. On the "injustice scale," the fact that they were wrongly denied a chance to hit one more three-pointer to keep their dreams alive speaks for itself.

From Louisville's standpoint, being the beneficiary of a bad call unfairly tarnishes the win because people are sure to remember the call more than the many positive things the Cardinals did to earn the victory. Louisville's bench contributed mightily to the win, which is a testament to those back-up players and also a testament to Rick Pitino's coaching - and this morning people are focusing less on them than they should. Even more significant on the "injustice scale" is this: The Cardinals are a strong defensive team and may well have prevented the Shockers from getting off a good shot, but because the blown call gave them the ball rather than the Shockers, people this morning are talking only about what Wichita State's offense might have done - rather than what Louisville's defense might have done - to decide the outcome.

An Odd Twist
For most of my life Louisville has been the big bad favorite, not the underdog, almost every time it takes the court. It is the tournament's top seed and is playing in its second consecutive Final Four. And its coach was just named to the Basketball Hall of Fame. In our love-the-little-guy culture, they are the kind of team most people root against.

But a funny thing happened on the way to this year's forum: Louisville has captured millions of hearts in the manner that underdogs and Cinderellas usually do. Thanks to Kevin Ware's gruesome injury last weekend - and the role played by walk-on Tim Henderson last night - and the fact that they needed to rally from a double-digit deficit in the second half to get past Wichita State - the Cardinals are suddenly the team whose experiences read like a heart-tugging Hollywood script. Who'd'a thunk?

A Peeve
This is not basketball-related, but my skin crawled when the PA announcer in the Georgia Dome introduced Michigan guard Nik Stauskas by saying he is "from Ontario, Canada." We know Ontario is in Canada. We don't need to have an announcer clarify that as if he is speaking to a roomful of six-year-olds. He should have introduced Stauskas as being "from Mississauga, Ontario" just like he introduced Trey Burke as being "from Columbus, Ohio." In addition to insulting our intelligence, it felt like he was slighting Mississauga by not even mentioning it the way he did the home towns of the U.S.-born players.

We have seen this kind of thing for several years now. When giving place names of locales north of the border, our newspapers and television news programs have developed a habit of neglecting to mention either the town or province while remaining certain to say Canada, even when saying Canada is not necessary. I grit my teeth every time I see an article that says "Toronto, Canada" instead of "Toronto, Ontario." People who are too ignorant to know the names of Canada's provinces and territories are unlikely to be reading a newspaper in the first place, so I am hopelessly imploring the MSM to stop catering to them. I don't want to hear "Medicine Hat, Canada" instead of "Medicine Hat, Alberta" unless we start saying "Dallas, United States" instead of "Dallas, Texas."

And yes, I know the Georgia Dome's PA announcer was addressing a sports audience which might not be precisely the same as a newpaper audience. But even where those audiences don't overlap, sports fans should be almost as likely as news fans to know the name of a Canadian province when they hear it.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

et ceteras

Gay Marriage
On two separate and unrelated cases, the U.S. Supreme Court is soon to issue rulings that will have a significant impact on the status of Americans' ability to legally marry somebody of the same sex. Therefore, millions of people on both sides of the gay marriage issue are waiting with baited breath to see how the Court rules.

When it comes to an issue of such magnitude, there is no time to opine about it in a quick-hit post like this one. I will be sharing my thoughts in the near future, but if anyone is interested in a "sneak peak" of sorts, then today I will simply say this:

1) It is my strong opinion that public discourse on gay marriage has been horribly unproductive and unenlightening. And, 2) I believe this is because large numbers of people on each side of the issue have intransigent misperceptions about those on the other, which 3) is noteworthy because those who fall on different sides of this issue are not as neatly divided along party and ideological lines as they are almost every other time.

Wither the Academy
If you want to know of another sign that the Apocalypse is upon us when it comes to our institutions of higher learning, here it is: Columbia has hired a convicted murderer and unrepentant terrorist as an adjunct professor.

Though born in New York, Kathy Boudin spent some of her college years in the Soviet Union being paid by the Soviet government...In the 1960's and 70's she emerged as a leader of the Weather Underground, which bombed a multitude of buildings including the Pentagon, U.S. Capitol, and New York Police Benevolent Association...In 1970 she planned the bombing of a soldiers' dance in New Jersey that was attended by recently drafted servicemen. The plot failed when the bomb exploded prematurely, killing three of her co-conspirators as well as injuring injuring herself and another co-conspirator...In October of 1981, after dropping off her 14-month-old son at a babysitter's, she took part in an armed robbery during which three people were killed. She was subsequently convicted of felony murder and served 19 years in prison before being set free on parole...In the words of David Horowitz, Boudin is "a woman whose actions left nine children fatherless and who has shown no genuine remorse for that."

Columbia apparently considers her actions to be less important than the fact she carried them out in the name of left wing causes. I find it more than interesting that Boudin's activism (now there's a euphemism for the ages!) is multi-generational and multi-bracketed in her family. Her father was an attorney who represented Fidel Castro and whose law partner was a member of the American Communist Party. The firm they founded represented Alger Hiss and Jimmy Hoffa. Meanwhile, Boudin's uncle was a Marxist theorist who joined the Socialist Party of America and served as delegate to the International Socialist Congress.

With a bloodline and life history like hers, who else could you possibly want teaching your children after you fork over God knows how much money to send them to the Ivy League?

If that didn't bother you enough, how about this: On Monday the Associated Press made it their official policy to not use the phrase "illegal immigrant." And to top it off they also made it their policy to not use the phrases "undocumented immigrant" and "undocumented worker." In effect, they have banned the reporting of truth by codifying the kind of linguistic chicanery forecasted by Orwell. Maybe there's no need for leftists to hire Kathy Boudin to brainwash college students, since the AP's reporting seems likely to assure that student brains will arrive on campus with nothing in them to be washed out. Students can then be easily indoctrinated by any hack on the block at a fraction of the cost.

More on Immigration
Maybe it's just me, but I already thought it was a travesty when journalists and politicians stopped saying "illegal alien" and replaced it with "illegal immigrant." Historically, the word "immigrant" automatically implies legality because it speaks of people who move to another land while following its rules, and with the intention of adopting it as their own and dedicating themselves to it.

Of course those people retain some of the traditions of their homeland (as they should) but in doing so they immerse themselves in the customs of their new country and become an integral part of it. That is what was done by the legions who left Europe and entered America via Ellis Island. It is also what was done by the legions who arrived on our western coast after departing the islands of Japan and peninsula of Korea and slums of Peking. And it is still done by almost everyone who moves here from across the Atlantic and Pacific.

For centuries it has been clearly understood that the word "immigrant" describes people like them who follow the same basic approach. However, that approach is not followed by the overwhelming majority of people who have snuck across our southern border over the last 30+ years; and as time goes by it becomes more and more obvious that they will never embrace our nation as anything other than a teat from which to suck. To treat them no differently than those who come here in accordance with the rules, and who come here with the intent of making America part of their identity, is an insult to every true immigrant and every descendant of a true immigrant. In other words, it is an insult to every American and should be treated with the rightful contempt it deserves.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Tourney Notes, Part Four

Random thoughts on the NCAA Basketball Tournament now that it is down to the Final Four:

All four teams that advanced over the weekend are talented, and all of them are physically and mentally tough. That gives us reason to hope this coming weekend will offer up some tense and exciting games, but the regional finals that just ended were the biggest bunch of duds I can remember seeing in a single tournament. When the most remarkable incident is an injury - and the lone bit of suspense is a team getting dominated for 30 minutes and then mounting an unsuccessful rally only after their opponent's best defender leaves the game for good - you know that the weekend was not exactly competitive.

The 2-3 Zone
In case it wasn't clear from the second section of my previous post, let me put it this way: I am sick and tired of hearing everyone in the sports media talk about Syracuse's 2-3 zone defense. You would think it is some kind of radical, innovative, bullet-proof system that just appeared and no one is able to figure out. The truth, however, is that Syracuse has been playing the 2-3 since I was in high school and I am only one year away from my 25th reunion. If the system were that good they would have more than one national championship to their name after all these years.

The 2-3 is certainly a good system, but it has significant weaknesses. It leaves lots of open floor on the perimeter, which makes it susceptible to teams who shoot good from the outside. Because it provides plenty of room away from the paint for opponents to move the ball around, it allows opponents to eat chunks of time off the clock - which makes it harder to come from behind when you play the 2-3 than it is when you play man-to-man.

Nebraska's football teams did not win all those championships in the 1990's because their option offense was new and perplexing. If anything it was old and predictable, but they won because their players were outstanding and executed it to perfection. Opponents could not play their own systems as well as Nebraska played theirs, so the Cornhuskers won more than anyone else...Or as the old saying goes, it's not about the X's and O's, it's about the Jimmys and Joes...If Syracuse cuts down the nets next Monday, it will be because of the players, not the system.

The Bespectacled One
While I'm rambling about something that relates to Syracuse, I feel I should spend a few words on their coach. It would be dishonest for me to call myself a Jim Boeheim fan, for over the years I have found myself cheering against his teams at least as often as cheering for them, and I have uttered my share of uncharitable things along the way. However, there is much to respect about him.

Boeheim is 68 years old. Other than a three-year stint playing semi-pro basketball, he has lived in Syracuse, NY ever since the age of 17, either playing or coaching basketball for Syracuse University the whole time...Boeheim has the secondmost wins among all coaches in NCAA history, and the most wins to have occurred all at one school...In 44 seasons as a coach (seven as an assistant and 37 as head coach) Syracuse has never had a losing season, and the only time they finished .500 was in his first year as an assistant...And it certainly says something about him that he is able, decade after decade, to recruit blue-chip athletes to spend their college years in this bitter-cold, modest-sized city in the middle of the state.

If you still need convincing that Wichita State is a genuinely strong program that is attractive to top talent, read this.

If you want a reason to cheer for Michigan, read this.

Prayers go out to Kevin Ware for a full and speedy recovery.

And lastly, as much as I hate to despoil this post by ending it this way, I have to say that the media's handling of Ware's injury was pathetic and ridiculous. Refusing to show anything but that distant camera angle amounted to treating adults like preschoolers who are incapable of seeing something unpleasant. Opting to broadcast one replay after another of teammates crying and Rick Pitino wiping away tears, while refusing to show the reality of the injury that triggered those emotions, was yet one more patronizing contribution to the wussification of America. And I hope millions of my fellow citizens are with me on this one.